What Should We Put Under the Swing Set/play Area?

Updated on February 23, 2011
S.K. asks from Liberty, TX
10 answers

My husband and I would like to put some kind of ground cover under our kids swingset that will cushion a fall and keep it from turning into a mud pit when it rains. We have considered wood chips, chipped rubber, sand, and small pebbles. One challenge we face is we have lots of trees in our yard and in the fall we are overrun with leaves. We are going to have to be able to blow/rake the leaves out of whatever we pick. What do you have? Do you like it? Why? What would you recommend? Thanks for your input!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the ideas. We ended up putting the rubber mulch under the play area and it has been great. It is no longer a muddy pit after it rains and I feel like it has a good cushion in case they fall. We bought it at Sams. The price was much better than the home improvement stores.

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answers from Dallas on

We have the pea gravel and we don't have any problems with the leaves. We have a big yard vac/blower. And my husband just rolls right over it. Some of the gravel travels a bit, but it's because the blower is so powerful. HTH.

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answers from San Antonio on

I also have several oak trees and cedar elms that lose leaves at two different times of the year. My recommendation would be fine shredded cedar. It compacts and meshes nicely together; which provides a cushion and prevents it from washing. I have a five foot wide winding path going down a slope and even the fastest rains in San Antonio didn't wash it. I put builders base, also known as "Chat" under the mulch to help prevent weed growth and keeps it level. Other options like pepples and rubber mulch are nice looking; but only until leaves and other debris mix into them. I keep the mulch at 5 to 6 inches deep and replenish it usually once a year. Hope that gives you some more info .... I'm a Master Gardener in Bexar County; plantanswers.com and the county extension office is another great resource for landscaping questions you may enjoy clicking through when you have a chance...

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answers from Amarillo on

We have shredded mulch under our playset and have had no problems with it. We have trees in our backyard but not as many as you probably do, so trouble with leaves isn't a big deal. My husband uses his leaf-blower to suck the few leaves we get using caution to not suck up the smaller pieces of mulch into the motor. We researched the other options you listed and felt it was best to use mulch. The chipped rubber is expensive compared to mulch. Sand is horrible for all the obvious reasons and pebbles ruin shoes very quickly. One of the things we have to do a few times a summer is weed the mulch. There was an above ground pool where our playset is now and for the most part the weeds don't grow, but sometimes there are a few that spring up. We just weed those out and fluff up the matted down mulch with a rake a couple times a summer. Hope this helps...enjoy your new playset!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We had our set built in early 2000 and we used the no float mulch from Home Depot. We also have a ton of trees and we have not had any issues. My husbnad replenishes the mulch fairly regularly. Bermuda grass should be great if you have the area to grow it. We had bermuda with the first house we built and playset we bought. Now, my yard is full of trees and St. Augustine.

My daughter is now 13 so our set is rarely used anymore. It still looks new. I occasionally have a couple of neighbor children playing on it when my daughter is babysitting.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

We put gravel or small rocks in a wooden frame we built around the playset and it's worked fine. We can blow leaves out of it and our son loves to play with his dump truck in it and he stays pretty clean.



answers from Austin on

I read previous responses. I would NOT recommend MULCH. I moved here from the Dallas area, where an elementary school used mulch on their playground and it spontaneously ignited. Fortunately school was out and no one was around to get hurt. They caught it on camera.

The pebbles or dirt would probably be best.



answers from Dallas on

How about artifical turf grass or indoor/outdoor carpeting with a layer of packed sand underneath?
The sand will also be softer than solid ground underneath and also provides drainage through the turf grass or carpet. It also will allow you to either sweep or blow off debris if necessary.



answers from Dallas on

Honestly Bermuda Grass... it is thick, soft and it's all we had when we were small! Anything else is going to be a PITA with leaves.
Plus, rubber stains the clothes.
Sand is an attraction for stray cats and blech... sorry... I have a scary sandbox thing. lol



answers from New Orleans on

I had the exact same question, so I went on a search to find the best. This article was born as a result. Grass, mulch, sand, pea gravel....etc. It gives the pros/cons from parent of each. Click the link for information. Good luck with whatever you decide!!



answers from San Antonio on

We went with a shredded mulch as well - most places will sell it in bulk as a playground mulch (it's much softer than regular mulch, it doesn't have the large sticks that can impale a kid). We had it under 2 oak trees and found that the leaves just kind of blended in with it and eventually decomposed. It worked out great!

Next question: Material to Use Under the Playset ( Mulch, Pebbles,Grass)